The English translation renders “過去のあやまち=ayamachi” as “the errors in our history”, “国策を誤り=ayamari” as “following a mistaken national policy”, and “未来に誤ちayamachi無からしめんとするが故に” as “In the hope that no such mistake be made in the future”.
The second example, where the translator replaces the verb “誤り” with adjective “mistaken” is the easy part, so let’s take care of it first. The root form of the verb “誤り” is “誤る”, which is translated in the online Kenkyusha dictionary as:
mistake; make a mistake; 《fml》 commit [make] an error; 《fml》 err; 〈誤解する〉 misunderstand; 〈しくじる〉 fail; 〈取り違える〉 mistake [take] 《A》 for 《B》.Here, there is no sense of inherent moral or ethical failure; the examples merely point out a variance with the correct action or understanding of things. Kenkyusha is even more concise with the noun form of “誤る ayamaru” —again, confusingly for the novitiate “誤り”:
a mistake; a slip; a blunder; 《fml》 an error ⇒→まちがいThis is not the case for the first, hiragana, ayamachi(=あやまち). Kenkyusha gives it following definitions:
〈過失〉 a fault; a blunder; 〈誤り〉 a mistake; 《fml》 an error; 〈罪過〉 an offense; 〈事故〉 an accident; a mishap.Note the word “offense”. Inherent, if implicit, is something that goes beyond mere correction, a legal, moral or ethical sanction, external and/or self-inflicted—retribution and/or atonement. If fact, this sense is so powerful that it is rarely used in a non-judgmental sense. Instead, “誤り ayamari”, that is, the noun form of the verb “誤る ayamaru” is almost always used to convey the generic sense of “error” or “mistake”.
The second, mixed-orthography, ayamachi(=誤ち) poses a problem. It is nowhere to be found in the Kenkyusha or Sanseido dictionaries, online versions of two of the most widely used sets of hardcopy dictionaries in Japan. Instead, the only mixed-orthography version of ayamachi is “過ち”, and is coupled to “あやまり”, the hiragama version. In other words, two respected authorities (surely seconded by other publishers) recognize “過ち” and “過ち” alone as an acceptable mixed-orthography rendering of “あやまち”, or “ayamachi”.
The MOFA translators must have been aware of this difference, and reflected it by transposing the two words to “errors” and “mistake”, respectively. But why in the first place did the original drafters of the Murayama Statement render ayamachi, one of the most crucial concepts in the text, in the first instance in hiragana and switch to what is at best an unorthodox rendering in the second? My mind is not settled on this point, so I’ll leave it at that, for any of you that are interested to consider. I mention in passing that my thoughts were set off by what I perceived to be a gap between the emotive “ayamachi” on one hand and the less judgmental “error” and “mistakes” on the other.
* There is, in fact, a verb version of “ayamachi=あやまち, 過ち”, namely “ayamatsu=過つ”. It is no longer used except perhaps for some archaic and formal effect. Interestingly, it does not convey any inherent sense of moral or ethical failure. Thus, it has more or less the same meaning as “ayamaru” (but without the latter’s alternate meaning to apologize, which is expressed with a different Chinese character).